Sunday, July 11, 2010

If not, then what?

I've been bored with my usual pontification lately. I have I think adequately expressed most of my opinions on the subject of the interface between faith and reason and all the conflict between them, at least for the time being, and so I think I'll try something different. Something more interactive. Something more disturbing.

I'm asking a question of you my readers. It is partially inspired by a comment made a while back by one of you (Eric) about how a good debater should be able to take the opposite side of the issue. I didn't agree at the time and it still goes against my grain, but I've thought about it, and it seemed worth pursuing at least as a discussion. It may reveal things about us; or it may just bore you all to tears and make you hate me as a person. I have no idea, but what the hell...

And so, the question is this:

If your belief or idea or concept of reality, of the universe, of this world and our place in it, were revealed to you to be totally and utterly incorrect, if you somehow found this out to be true (hypothetical, so don't ask me how, but you find it out *for sure* and you *must believe that you've been wrong all along* whatever it might have taken for that to happen) then what other concept or view of reality do you think is most likely to be true? In other words, what would be your second choice, your 'second best guess' as to the TRUTH OF IT ALL, if you had to look for one?

I have one rule: If your current belief is naturalistic or scientific, your new adopted view must oppose that, i.e., must be supernatural or theistic in some way; and the reverse is also true. If your view is currently a 'supernatural' or 'theistic' view, then for the purposes of this discussion only, you must embrace a naturalistic or scientific viewpoint of some sort.

Relax Christians, it's only a hypothetical discussion; I promise to not take your souls and eat them with jam. (Muah hah hah...)

I'm not sure whether my 'All is mind; all is a communal dream' Big Brain (hate that name) speculations count as entirely supernatural or naturalistic, so I'll let that type of thing slide in either direction. Or perhaps better to say, all 'supernatural or partially supernatural but non-theistic' concepts can be taken by either side of the argument as an alternative, as their 'second best guess.'

So I've set the rules for this little discussion. Of course as usual, we are not constrained to be limited by these rules, but in the beginning I hope we can have a discussion at least loosely based on them. So say, if you're religious and absolutely refuse to take a non-religious view, I really don't care if you merely take the view of a different faith, a different religion. I'm mainly after a discussion of alternate views, so I'm not that particular. However you can't just take a different sect of the same religion. If you're catholic, you can't pick 'methodist.' It must really be a different view, is the salient point.

And after that, as usual, anything goes. The conversation can evolve or devolve as chance will have it. And eventually someone will post the equivalent of 'hey lardass, write another post' and I will...

As for me, I have to take the naturalist position as my 'primary' theory of reality, and as for my 'second best guess' well, you all know it already, my "Big Brain Speculations.' I'll refrain from discussing them again here, unless someone else brings it up.

So come with me on a journey outside your comfort zones, my brothers and sisters...

402 comments:

  1. First a question, when Pliny did this you chose not to participate, why the change of heart?

    Now the minor conundrum, you've left the agnostics with only an epistemic switch. In kind of an ironic way no doubt, finding out for sure that I can be sure.

    I could be flippant and just say knowing would be my 2nd choice.

    However, in deference to a saint I'll simply put it like this.

    As for my 'second best guess' involving rampant speculation without a shred of evidence...

    Life is an emergent property of the universe without exception. There could never not be life even if it's not "here" (earth, this solar system).

    That's about it.

    Maybe I lack imagination.

    Judge you!

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  2. I think the problem for me with this post is that, for decades, I took to the whole "Jesus" thing. Then I grew up.

    So it's kind of preaching to the choir to embrace a secondary faith, because I am already on a second system. Trying to comprhend a third? Meh. I'd be back to looking for Santa and Paul Bunyon Christ.

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  3. "In kind of an ironic way no doubt..."

    Another unintentional pun, welcome to my life.

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  4. Uh, I never saw Pliny's post, so I must apologize. If I had, I wouldn't have written this one. Should I delete this one then? It seemed a good idea at the time. Was it really identical? How long ago was it?

    As to being a christian first tbrough, so was I, and I would not list 'christian' as my second choice now, so....

    I like the 'life is an emergent property of the universe. I think that may actually be true, you know. After all, if chemicals can 'evolve' in a primordial ocean, perhaps it's the eventual tendency of all such supposedly 'inanimate' things to move toward life. Plus, and this is an added bonus for me, it would mesh neatly with my 'Big Brain' as well.

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  5. Oh, I see what you mean, tbrough. I don't know. I guess if you actually can't imagine anything else being true well enough to defend it, I won't ask you to bow down to Mr. Bunyan Christ.

    What about a 'bare-bones' deity, like eric likes to talk about as if it's Yaweh. By that I mean, either a prime-mover of some sort that isn't like a god, say a field effect, or a god but not as we think of a god...

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  6. My current "best guess" is agnosticism (to define a complex issue in a single word). It would, therefore, be "kosher" for me to choose flat out atheism as a second best choice on this thread, but in the spirit in which you asked the question:
    I could accept a belief that there was, in fact, a "creator" entity, even perhaps a Deity of some sort, that was responsible for our current reality, but I would choose to believe that the Universe and all of us humans were an incidental or unintended byproduct of the "work" of creation. This "take" would allow me to continue to understand what my reason and what we humans have thus far discovered about the realities of the Universe tells me to be true. For me, I guess, the real difficulty with the existance or non-existance of God revolves around whether or not I have to modify my life's behaviors to worship or propitiate any such Deity. I don't think I could ever accept such a "need".

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  7. It just figures that I wanted to do something different, and I would up copying someone else.

    Harry, you've shit in my swimming pool here, dammit.

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  8. Tha makes sense to me, Harvey. I could accept such a deity if I knew that the current scientific paradigm (and my BB thingy) were false.

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  9. My second choice would be an atheist using stoic philosophy.

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  10. Well, I guess I'll let this post stand. Sorry I seem to have echoed Pliny's. It's still interesting to me though.

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  11. My second choice would be an atheist using stoic philosophy.
    --------------
    Ahh. Very nice.

    I like the stoics. Sensible.

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  12. Pliny's was slightly different. He challenged us to write a post on an opposing viewpoint.

    We all kind of helped decide what who was going to tackle. Mine was to write a justification for Hell. As happenstance woud have it, a mass-murderer sprung up localy here giving me something I might think worthy of Hell. The dude was one twisted fucker! He killed 6 people, his wife, her dad, her son, her brother, the man he thought was her lover, and some poor kid that was visiting her son. He spread out the killings over a day and a half, tasering the victims, stabbing them, then raping them...If ever anyone deserved it he did.


    As to what way I might choose, I might try Buddhism. Maybe try to become a Shaolin Monk and wander the American West...wait, that has been done by somebody already. And I wonder if Buddhists actually have a diety per se, it's not that different than now.

    I could see being a Pagan. I don't know much about them, but their gods seem to be nature and her children. The whole pagan thing seems sexy as hell too. Thats always a plus !

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  13. Brian,

    It wasn't an indictment homey I swear!

    I was curious about you changing your mind.

    The topic is fine and can be explored in depth, without swimming into a turd.

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  14. Third choice,

    Reform Judaism, a nice mix of pragmatism and the concepts of transcendence: no racism, no sexism, God but no heaven or hell, lovely rituals

    Then again, the more I think about Moses the more disgusted I am by the behavior attributed to him.

    In this era we would have named him Moishe the Crazy Fucker and sent out Army Rangers after him.

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  15. I envision a universe that resembles a very detailed Dungeons and Dragons game, with the guy upstairs being some pimple-faced fourteen year old who likes to burn ants with a magnifying glass when he's not making us suffer needlessly.

    And he makes up outrageous stories that we're required to believe; except the ones that kiss his ass he tortures even more than the ones who don't believe.

    And of course, we're all little puppets with nothing but the illusion of free will, no purpose except to provide him with entertainment, and no existence beyond this one, since he really has no use for us.

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  16. Come on Ed,

    What's the answer?

    I could see you as a kind of mixture between Comi-con and Baptist.

    A mask with a cape adorned by a giant cross, big black boots and a loin cloth.

    Your tag line would be an oblique pun on your actual job as a surveyor.

    "Survey says...? YOU"RE CONDEMNED!"

    Then after they were dispatched you'd end with a Randy Savage "Ooh Yeah!"

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  17. Dammit, Harry!

    You're not supposed to be peeking through my windows.

    TThat's why I had to get that restraining order, remember?

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  18. That was an unfortunate misunderstanding Ed, and solely predicated upon your former tagline, "The loincloth compels you!"

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  19. Brian; I have a tough time with this, mainly because "believe" doesn't mean the same thing to me now as it did when I was a Christian

    Back then, I "believed" in the sense that I pretended to know that something was absolutely true (wait for the gotcha from Mike! Ryan wasn't a True Christian™!!!), but now I "believe" in the sense that I accept a provisional theory on how things are, but it can change with evidence, perspective, etc...

    Also, in this hypotheticall, whatever it was that undermined my current “beliefs” is what I would have to replace them with, making speculation on what a “guess” would be difficult.

    But say, if scientist were to discover a fundamental quantum change (???) in the brainstem of people when they die and suddenly the “enduring soul” became a real measurable thing, then my first inclination would be to “believe” in something akin to Hinduism or Buddhism, but I really don’t think I could make the leap to any sort of Karmic system as it really doesn’t reflect the nature of the universe as I see it. Stars explode, genocides go unpunished, etc… Life is unfair and it really seems like the nature of anything “supernatural” should reflect the natural world (well, not really, but if you are going to move away from total agnosticism and speculate, it should), otherwise it’s just wish fulfillment.

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  20. You must be the devil Brian…

    I couldn’t help myself …I was compelled to respond to your new post, sort of like Eve after she was tempted by the serpent, she seen the fruit was desirable. Lol just joking don’t bring your pitch fork out.

    Hypothetically speaking? As all life is connected in some way or another I could envision us all being part of a dream. Actually a dream from your sifi big brain theory would be more probable for me.
    I couldn’t imagine life evolving form non-life so there would be no need for me to go their.

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  21. Wow, I would have lost a hundred bucks if I'd actually made the bet that I thought no christians would actually respond to this...

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  22. Well Ryan, aren’t we all Pharisees to some extent???
    I'm going with Harry on this one...

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  23. Yes, of course, but what did you do with the real Mike?

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  24. Hmmm. Interesting. This, of course, would require one to hold to a set of clearly defined beliefs, in order for them to be disproved and recognizable as disproved.

    How many people really think like that, have belief structures like that? Most develop as a consequence of experience within the context of living.

    So, in my case God has definitively been proved to not exist, and any God-based belief system would be at best a bad choice.

    Perhaps I would then choose to believe I live in the Gunslinger's universe as loosely defined by Stephen King in his Gunslinger saga. It's pretty interesting, and I could set out on a vaguely defined quest to give my existence purpose.

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  25. Why I'd be an evangelical preacher, selling packets of holy water to old ladies hoping to cure that arthritis!

    I'd use the miracle of radio to tell individuals in the crowd their name, affliction, address and such and try to convince them that the POWER OF THE LORD will heal them!

    I'd feel the GLORY OF THE LORD all around me, my mansion, my sports cars, my trophy wife du jour!

    If anyone pointed out to me that I was 'phoney'(whatever that means), I'd snap right back, "We are ALL sinners, brother!", because I would believe it!

    I'd believe that there is no difference at all between some kind of scientifically tested(whatever that means) miracle, and anything at all that could be brought to mind even slightly resembling a miracle!

    The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!

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  26. You know, oddly enough, my version of alternate reality looks a lot like the world we all live in right now.

    Just because some of us don't seem to be "suffering" right now only means we haven't been noticed and marked for "special attention" by the Dungeon Master yet.

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  27. ...or that while he's made us suffer in the past, he's moved on to easier targets for the time being.

    In any case, the default is death, and all of us are on a timer that runs down after 70 to 100 years or so.

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  28. Life is the ultimate joke

    Death the ultimate irony

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  29. Brian,

    I like this idea. I think that a lot of us on here have seen the opposites to what we currently believe. However, I believe we should re-visit what the alternative could be if we were somehow proven wrong.

    I think it's a good exercise, because I feel that to truly appreciate and grow in what you currently believe, you must examine and consider the thoughts and knowledge of those that believe different from you.

    For me, if I was proven wrong on what I believe and what I thought I knew to be true, I would go back to where I was before in my belief that this is it. When we die, we die. End of the story.

    And for me, there is still nothing wrong with that. I don't believe what I believe because of fear of death. Death is not a motivation for me to grow in my knowledge.

    After experiencing many cultures and such a diversity of individuals, I've come to the conclusion that there is this profound connection to all of us. That we can inspire each other by words, actions, and non-actions. No matter what we believe.

    I choose to believe that Christ existed and his story is true, but it's not a deal breaker for me to realize that whoever wrote about him and the words attributed to him actually are the right way to grow as individuals and have harmony as a civilization.

    My knowledge and experience with God and the Holy Spirit are different from what I believe about my Teacher and Savior Jesus Christ.

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  30. Wow Brian!
    This has already turned out to be a great idea for a thread!
    It has already brought back two of our most frequent Christian contributors (Observant and Botts), without whom we are sort of talking to ourselves. Although Pliny's former effort along these lines was similar, he really asked us to "defend" the diametrically opposed belief system from our own. I think I like this idea a little better. I will lurk for a while, inasmuch as I have already responded, but I am very interested to see where this may go. BTW, kudos to Observant for being willing to expose his potentially soft underbelly to our possible (probable?) attacks yet again.

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  31. BTW, kudos to Observant for being willing to expose his potentially soft underbelly to our possible (probable?) attacks yet again.
    ---------------
    Agreed. Kudos to Mike.

    Hey Mike, I'm puzzled. Really puzzled. You answered this post with an open mind and some apparent humility. Why aren't you like that all the time? I only get really upset with you when you demonstrate a lack of *tolerance.* And today you're not doing that.

    As someone else has already asked, what did you do with the real Mike?

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  32. Wow, I would have lost a hundred bucks if I'd actually made the bet that I thought no christians would actually respond to this...
    -------------
    I'm happily surprised myself.

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  33. Just to aid me, since I am the only person I see here posting with any form of the name "Mike," who is this Mike to whom some of you refer? I suspect it is not me, but someone named Mike who has a posting pseudonym. I am not fond of pseudonyms, myself, but understand the unfortunate necessity of such shields.

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  34. As someone else has already asked, what did you do with the real Mike?
    July 12, 2010 3:19 PM
    ---------------------------
    Do men have a menopause cycle, Or am I going through the change of life. I wish I knew…lol
    My God it’s hot in here, are you guys hot, or is it me?

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  35. Observant's name is Mike.

    My name is Ian.

    Unfortunately, since you already use your real name, we'll have to give you a distinguishing 'handle'.

    How about Mukalukaluka (you can add and subtract 'luka's depending on your mood!)?

    (I already know I'm being 'stupid')

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  36. "Mike" is Observant's real first name.

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  37. Then it is quite clear that I am not Observant. My wife tells me that all of the time.

    Thanks!

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  38. My God it’s hot in here, are you guys hot, or is it me?
    ----------------
    I refuse to tell you you're hot, mike, so you can stop trying to get me to.

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  39. Hey observant, change can be good, you know. Maybe not menopause, but some changes... It's how we grow as people.

    (When it happens to a guy, should it be called womenopause?)

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  40. Yea, how could I 'defend' magical thinking?

    Hey, I did. With my scenario as myself as a charismatic, evangelical faith-healer, it's as easy to defend magical thinking as it is for a rich Republican Senator to just not care if the not-so-recently laid-off get thrown under the bus.

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  41. Peeb,

    What are you guys' big political parties up yonder anyway? Anything like the Dems and Repubs?

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  42. Yeah, what are the political parties 'up thar?'

    Is it like, the doorights and the whiplashes? 'Cause that's what we have here, more or less...

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  43. Yeah,

    We should just name them the blue douchebags and the red douchebags.

    What do they both stand for?

    Big government.

    If we had more Jesus Krishna Hades we wouldn't need political parties, but you darn atheists... to the moon Alice!

    Judge you!

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  44. Back to my question...

    You know my second choice, but what of my third? I was reflecting on that...

    Wicca is sexy and you get laid a lot. So there's that going for it. But it's too women-oriented a religion for me to really want to partake of it. I do like pentagrams though. However I like a lot of geometric shapes...

    I've always admired the Baha'i faith, if I've got that apostrophe in the right place and I probably don't. (Just checked, and whaddaya know, I did) Their 'morality system' is actually incredibly impressive. Christians, take a look at it and get back to me with how your's is better, okay hmmm? Just google 'baha'i faith.'

    However, there are certain schools of buddhism which are actually rather close to my umber 2 choice (BB) so I'd go for one of them, but that isn't in the spirit of my own question. My third choice should also be different from my first and second.

    So I think I'd choose the Baha'i faith if I had to choose an actual 'religion.' It sounds wonderful.

    If the whole world embraced such a morality system, we'd practically be living in nirvana now. Or heaven. Whatever.

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  45. to the moon Alice!
    ---------------
    The Great One?

    I'm a huge Jackie Gleason fan. I can remember watching his tv show as a kid. The variety show, and the Honeymooners too, of course. Fantastic entertainer. Great in 'Gigot' too.

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  46. Or...

    Or if I want to be a total iconoclastic pariah type, I could choose to follow the religion of Thelema.

    Haven't heard of it?

    It has the creepy factor going for it...

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  47. We should just name them the blue douchebags and the red douchebags.
    ------------
    Ya know Harry, I agree with you, but lately in recent years, the red douchbags have gotten a lot more douchebaggy than the blue ones, who are still very douchebaggy themsleves, no doubt about it. It just seems that the red douchebags have lately become *evil* red douchebags, while the poor blue douchebags are stunned into their douchebaggy disbelief that they red ones are so horrific now. The red side is sliding more and more into the oblivion of pandering to its basest element. which, as it turns out, is pretty fucking base. I had no idea that there even *were* people as evil and stupid as the republicans have turned out to be in the face of an Obama victory. They'd gladly see the country burn if it meant that Obama would be blamed for it.

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  48. Thelema sounds OK, but the part about driving off a cliff at the end seems like a waste of a sweet classic musclecar...

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  49. Well, Harry, it's the same thing, different names, sometimes.

    If you don't really follow politics here, you can be totally sucked in by the latest name that the far rights are calling themselves.

    B.C.Liberals is a great example.(sounds liberal, right?).

    The kind of politician IN the B.C. Liberals are Conservative and Social Credit.

    The Conservatives would NEVER get in power in British Columbia and the Social Credit, well, they've been 'found out'. Their name SOUNDS kind of 'socialist'(doesn't have a huge stigma here) and the Credit part doesn't seem to hurt the notion that they're kind of socialist.

    But they are further to the right of old Conservatives.

    Since everyone 'hates' them, they joined together gave themselves a name everyone trusted(from the Federal Liberal party) and they've been here dismantling the social safety net and imposing taxes on the poor ever since!

    YAY!(or not.)

    Federally, the Conservatives are 'in', but they have a minority government and have to stoop to stuff like cancelling parliament while they just govern by mini-dictatorship.(I forget the name they called it, it was sneakily not called mini-dictatorship though).

    The French have a party called the Bloc Quebecois dedicated to having Quebec as a quasi-seperate state where the rest of us ought to be dedicated to paying their bills! (Hey, they're French, what can you say?)

    And we all pretend that the Queen is in charge and pay for Governors General to pose in front of cameras for us, and such important thingies.

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  50. Baha'i?

    A striking coinky dink methinks. My fourth choice is the Ballyhigh faith of eternal musicals.

    Per Thelema,

    I just lost a little respect for you Brian. Crowley is the single most self-righteous nut job Britain has produced except for Dawkins, and the United States.

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  51. So peeb,

    They're basically power hungry, full of poop, and not afraid of being duplicitous.

    Just like us.

    "Oh Canada!"

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  52. It doesn't much matter for us, since about 1/3 of the economy is 'owned' by the United States, as they 'go' we 'go'.

    Nothing like hearing the old 'song', "But my business in on the border to take advantage of the cheap Canadian Dollar!

    Which means that he's taking advantage of cheap Canadian labour!

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  53. 'Canadian' businesses set up at the border to take advantage of the 'cheap Canadian Dollar'/cheap Canadian labour.

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  54. I just lost a little respect for you Brian.
    ----------------
    Oh Harry, I didn't mean it was my fourth choice or anything. I just 'threw out there' what I considered a creepy religion. Crowley was a semi-talented egotistical asshole who died poor, no more women to seduce for their money poor boy, and a drug addict. So he makes a very poor messiah. I know a bit about it and him only be cause I'm fairly well-read in the occult; not because I'm in any way a follower of him or his religion. I must confess that I use his tarot deck, as does my wife. Lady Frieda Harris, who painted it over a period of five years, was a competant cubist artist, and the symbolism is immense, more symbols from more disparate mythos than any other deck out there. So that's about it. Nice card deck, and a few interesting insights into hermetic kaballah. A lousy poet. A mediocre mountain climber. And a man who thought himself the new prophet of the next world religion. What a dope.

    Crowley was, by the way, another victim of the wonderful christian morality system. His mommy was a member of this christian sect, or more accurately cult, that demanded strict obedience in all things, and no pleasure allowed. The kid had a breakdown in college, I believe. His mom used to have this cute pet name for him. 'The Beast.' Nice. So, hating her as much as he did, (as well he should have!) he adopted it as his own, and called himself 'the beast 666' from there onwards, or at one point, 'the master therion,' 'therion' being greek for beast.

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  55. Thelema sounds OK, but the part about driving off a cliff at the end seems like a waste of a sweet classic musclecar...
    -------------
    Not thelema and louise.

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  56. Yeah Bri,

    That's the only thing I genuinely pitied him for, another little kid who got abused just for existing.

    The Beast, dang that is awful.

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  57. If there was such a thing as sin, calling a kid 'the devil,' 'the beast,' 'satan' or some shit like that, that'd be pretty high up there, along with killing Canaanite toddlers.

    Just shows how me and a certain mythological tribal deity disagree.

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  58. Harry; you extolled the virtues of "otherworldly thinking" on the previous post, and I meant to chime in but got distracted.

    My point would be that you have to ask, what does "otherworldly thinking" get you and is that benefit available through non-finctional means? I think yes. Seems to me "otherworldly thinking" is just a way to get your mind off yourself and focus on a bigger picture. Definitely a good thing.

    But isn't it better if the motive is grounded in reality?

    Can't remember if anyone brought up these points previously, if so, disregard.

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  59. This is great...

    http://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/34876_142493142434365_100000210398747_429495_2863574_n.jpg

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  60. Ryan,

    I apologize, are you referring to something this post, or the comment I made last post about there being benefits to religion?

    I think the latter, but I would like to be sure.

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  61. Harry, the latter.

    Brian, my first html...
    funny link

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  62. Ryan,

    First, I heart comic.

    Second, you're right. My point last post was to obey Ed, of secondary concern was religion's role as a benefit to the believer. Not to mention that it was deliberately worded so as to bait someone, namely pboy, into having a debate.

    I think he's the only one "here" who denies religion can have any benefits... well, I think he does at any rate.

    That reminds me, where the fuck are we any way? It's kind of trippy to think about how our physicality is being incorporated less (pun intended), and differently than it used to be.

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  63. I think he's the only one "here" who denies religion can have any benefits...
    ----------------------
    No, I'm pretty much where he is, at least as pertains standard religion. I can't see any real benefits, unless you count 'they believe in a lie and it makes them feel better' which I don't. Or perhaps better to say, the negatives far outweigh any positives.

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  64. I would say that religion has benefits, but definitely deny that it has any net benefit.

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  65. Obey me?

    Why of course you should.

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  66. "I would say that religion has benefits, but definitely deny that it has any net benefit."

    Exactly it Ryan, you hit the nail on the head. Well stated.

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  67. "No, I'm pretty much where he is, at least as pertains standard religion."

    Brian,

    Since I neither speak, read, nor write English, I haven't the faintest idea what you mean.

    Judge you!

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  68. In fact, since we've been dialoguing in Japanese so well over these past few years I thought you were a native!

    Then comes this post in English.

    Are you ill?

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  69. Harry, all I wanna know is, what drugs are you on tonight...
    ...and where can I get some?

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  70. Harry thinks he's turning Japanese.

    I really think so, too.

    Or maybe he just has the Vapors or something.......

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  71. Tonight Bri,

    Silliness is my drug, my weakness, my raison d'etre.

    Grew up on Python and The Kids In The Hall.

    Normal jokes need not apply.

    Do have a definite weak spot for bad jokes though.

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  72. About your comment though.

    I think peeb is across the board, Dawkins' style, rejecting anything good, that even the components of religion can offer.

    I could be wrong.

    Hopefully he'll pop up to clarify.

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  73. I like the word 'though' tonight as well apparently.

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  74. I think that religion has good points but that they are mostly self-serving.

    Religion will help you feel good about your pitiful life in an otherwise lonesome World.

    Whether you're happy to be giving to a good cause such as Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff, believing that you ARE feeling much better for having sent that money, or if you have a local church where the clergy comes to visit if you don't cough up, um, I mean, show up enough.

    You can always find someone who is willing to take an interest in YOU, keeping YOU on the 'straight and narrow', keeping you up on the gossip, what the church is needing your help and your money for this month.

    Hey, they'll be happy to draw the line in the sand for you. You're either a generous Christian or a greedy Atheist!

    And boy howdy are there a LOT of generous Christians! All you have to do is count the churches! Generous public giving to generous contractors who give to generous plumbers, electricians, stone-masons etc. etc.

    Oh yea, and there's a volunteer or two to hand out a sandwich and a coffee to the starving homeless on some Friday or Saturday nights.

    Basically, I'm saying that being religious is good for you, because you listen to people who told you your worldview, support your worldview and take the time, the trouble and your money to fit real life and the real world into your worldview!

    Hey if you're not with them, then you are against them! What could make life any more black and white than that? And that, is a good thing, isn't it?

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  75. And that, is a good thing, isn't it?
    ------------
    It is if you're a member of an ant colony...

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  76. Okay, I just found out tht Dick Cheney has had a device installed in his heart called an 'left ventricular pump' that pumps blood from his left ventricle to his aorta (I think) and that from now on, he will have no discernable pulse or heartbeat.

    Now I'm not normally one to make fun of a person's medical problems, but I ask you, isn't that a little too much like how many decent people think about him anyhow? As in, a Sith Lord, Darth Cheney? Half machine, half asshole....

    I know, this is over the line, but c'mon... no heartbeat? And I can't point out how appropriate that is?

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  77. He doesn't provide the comic relief that his 'boss' did, but that is quite amusing.

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  78. I think that's because he was the *real* boss and Bush was just his puppet. Puppets are funny.

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  79. Perhaps I would then choose to believe I live in the Gunslinger's universe as loosely defined by Stephen King in his Gunslinger saga. It's pretty interesting, and I could set out on a vaguely defined quest to give my existence purpose.
    -------------
    Michael, I wanted to get back to this. I like it too, but that's not a realistic view of reality should your own prove wrong, a 'best second guess' now is it? So you really haven't answered the question. It's an alternate reality to be sure, but not a very realistic one. The idea being, whatever view you espouse as a secondary view, it has to look like this reality we're all sharing, dude, and not the 'reality' of a novel.

    Btw, I appreciate having you here. You seem rather a sensible person.

    Now do tell, what *would* you look towards as your second guess, if it were somehow proven to you that your first one, christianity, was untrue? No gunslingers allowed. Sufism? Vedanta? Atheism? That Aztec religion where you get to cut out people's hearts with an obsidian knife?

    Enquiring minds want to know...

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  80. "I think that religion has good points but that they are mostly self-serving."

    Thanks for clarifying,

    I love being wrong. It's learning in its most naked form.

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  81. That's more than amusing Michael,

    I now declare Irony to be a god.

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  82. If Irony is a god, does that mean he's afraid of himself?

    Now that WOULD be ironic...

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  83. If Christianity were to be proven untrue, Another possibility for the human race could be, that we are the retarded rejects cast away from our superior alien ancestors .
    It is often reported by law enforcement , pilots and by those who have been abducted ,that aliens do exist.
    Don’t forget your tin hats boys.lol

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  84. I think we need a new post Brian...

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  85. Mike said "If Christianity were to be proven untrue, Another possibility for the human race could be, that we are the retarded rejects cast away from our superior alien ancestors"

    I often muse that we are a long forgotten colony from a galactic empire, but evolution would seem to indicate otherwise.

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  86. If Christianity were to be proven untrue, Another possibility for the human race could be, that we are the retarded rejects cast away from our superior alien ancestors"
    -----------
    And they, being superior, were atheists of course...

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  87. OK, no Gunslinger universe. Probably trying to become a Jedi would be out as well, pretty much for the same reasons.

    I would probably, at this point in my life, gravitate toward a neo-Native-American Pseudo Shaman-ism. I could a lot of time by a river, fishing and beating on a drum and playing a flute.

    Hmmm. Actually, I plan to do more of that, anyway. Probably more as a Christian mystic than anything truly shamanic, but I like rivers (and fishing) and drums and flutes.

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  88. "I think we need a new post, Brian" - Observant


    Whatever for, sir? Do you not like imagining your belief could possibly be wrong?


    OK, I'll admit, I can't imagine your belief being right. If my disbelief in gods were proven wrong, and Jesus, Yahweh, and the Ghost were to come down here and enlighten the world as to their reality, (and I mean in a REAL, observable way) I would still not worship them. Not unless the big guy could do some 'splaining about all that shit he did in the Bible. Even Jesus was a bit of an ass when one looks at Revelations.

    BTW,
    I wonder if any of the rreligious right would just admit that they get their ideas of Jesus from those not so nice bits of the NT.

    "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." - Jesus Matthew 10:34-36

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  89. Hmmm. Not all believers are fond of the whole of Scripture, nor do they get all giddy at the prospects of fire and brimstone. One of my gay Christian friends does not care much for Paul and his theology. Another Christian friend criticizes our mutual gay Christian friend on his gayness, and yet is on his third marriage due to infidelity.

    I cannot judge them, for I know myself. Not perfectly, but enough. The grace of God is nothing if it cannot encompass fallen and unrighteous people.

    I have often prayed for the salvation of friends who are unbelievers. One is currently a shaman, the other is genuinely waiting on the return of the Mother Ship. I do not despair, for they have traveled into pathways of belief and an openness that is necessary for meeting with God. Who knows what comes next? No one on Earth.

    I do not choose the paths for others, even those committed into my care. I contribute the best I can as often as I can, and that is sufficient. I have no desire to direct the steps of others.

    Some of the best prayers are arguments with God. I know people who shout regularly at God, though to do as they do requires great faith. They pray for wisdom, and that is a most difficult path.

    Christianity is not a system, not where it counts. It is a relationship. It is what happens when you lay down your weapons, strip off your clothes, and stand naked before God.

    Few have that courage. Most take the leavings, that which falls from the table. That is probably why one rarely sees a real Christian. They are few, and far between.

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  90. Michael, you are one of the most sane christians I've ever talked to. And you attitude speaks well for you... I truly and deeply wish that most christians thought as you do. It would be a far better world. One of my pet peeves about 'them' is the judgementalism, of which you seem to be totally lacking. If more christians were like you, the religion would be a huge force for good in the world, I think. You have the necessary ingredient. Humility. It's the most valuable thing in the world.

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  91. That is probably why one rarely sees a real Christian. They are few, and far between.
    --------------
    The fact that this is true is still no reason to relax your vigilance, I trust you know. You seem to understand pride. I hope you always continue to guard against it as it seems that you do now, Michael. Never let yourself believe too much that you are 'one of the few real christians' and you will actually be one of them, my friend. If you ever do, then not.

    It's a very stealthy sin. Hard to avoid. Everywhere I look, I see it's victims, all blind to anything being amiss... Even in the mirror.

    You seem better than that. Being better than that, don't let it go to your head, is my silly point here. No offense; I hope you understand the spirit in which I say it.

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  92. I have often prayed for the salvation of friends who are unbelievers. One is currently a shaman, the other is genuinely waiting on the return of the Mother Ship.
    ---------------------
    The second is a sad case of ignorance and gullibility, but the first is a genuine path, as valid as any other, as far as I can tell. All religion comes down from shamanistic beliefs. In a way, shamanism is the proto-religion, the source of all religion and spiritual thought. The danger I suppose is that statistically many who are into shamanism or wicca or magic(k) or you name it, are flakes and not serious about it as a spiritual path. For them it's all more of an ego trip and a social thing. Then again, no shortage of christians who are like that too.......

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  93. Also, and I suppose that I'll be losing you here Michael, I would go further on to say that to 'pray for the salvation of friends who are unbelievers' is in itself redolent of pride. I realize that to you, salvation is coming to believe in Jesus Christ, however, is it not a statement of pride to claim to *know that this it the only path to salvation? For all you know, a wican priest can attain salvation as well as or as much as anyone.

    I guess it's just that, to me, any claim to 'know what's best for others' is a statement of pride, even if you believe that your god is backing you up on it. Your beliefs are for you, not for others, who often have their own and would no sooner relinquish them as you would yours.

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  94. Michael said "Christianity is not a system, not where it counts. It is a relationship.... [] ... That is probably why one rarely sees a real Christian. They are few, and far between."

    So, isn't this just "The Argument from Experience" and "No True Scotsman" restated kndly by a very nice guy?

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  95. My own experience, the course of the events of my life, brought me into the Christian faith. Not having a long experiential history with Christianity, I do not have an emotional connection with any particular sect. My experience in becoming a Christian reflects what I perceived to be a supernatural intervention by God.

    Other people have other experiences in their lives. How God interacts with them is between them and God. I can share my experiences, and pray for God to guide and keep them. Within the context of my experience, salvation is important. So, I pray for that for them.

    The Christian faith is exclusive in that only those who are in Christ are saved. It is not exclusive in that all may receive him, and be saved.

    I cannot address whether or not pride is involved in praying for those who are outside to come in. I certainly do not pray for their condemnation. I have no interest in bringing them into any particular church or assembly. My experience tells me that salvation is good. I pray for this good in the lives of others.

    Humility? I have always know that the scope of my understanding is quite small relative to the scope of my ignorance. I am a finite creature, limited in time and space. I am a speck of dust on a speck of dust. How hard should humility be for a creature like me?

    Such a creature may well take comfort in a God who is everything that creature is not. A God who loves him, finite and unworthy. This creature does.

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  96. How hard should humility be for a creature like me?
    -------------
    Well, that's interesting. It's very hard for most christians. They even derive pride rather than humility from Jesus' teachings. They invariably see what they want to see.

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  97. Such a creature may well take comfort in a God who is everything that creature is not.
    ----------------
    Again, most christians see their god as a bigger, more powerful version of them. A 'Sky Daddy,' if you will. With ALL their own prejudices and small-minded priorities of course.

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  98. Michael, doesn't it temper your feelings toward your 'loving god' that 'loves you,' 'finite and unworthy creature' that you are, that if you decided that you just couldn't believe in him for lack of evidence, then according to your scriptures, he will not love you enough to NOT damn you forever, for what would be mere ignorance on your part? (Assuming that he exists of course) So just for ignorance on your part (for surely if he existed it would be merely ignorance) you fry till the stars go out... But, he LOVES you still no doubt, while you're frying forever. Guess that'll teach you to not believe... (Hey wait a minute, it doesn't matter if it teaches you, since you're still stuck in hell forever...)

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  99. Again, most christians see their god as a bigger, more powerful version of them. A 'Sky Daddy,' if you will. With ALL their own prejudices and small-minded priorities of course.
    ----------------------------------
    How do you know most Christians have this concept between themselves and God?
    I don’t… I don’t even come close.

    Sky Daddy!!! Too funny.

    What you seam to miss about Christianity is this, God creates within an individual a new creature after they repent of sin and believe in Him unto the saving of the soul. In other words the soul of man is spiritually dead in relation to God because of the sin that dwells within. But after God gives the soul spiritual life it is free from sin “YET” the carnal man ,the person we see when we look in the mirror is required to transform his life style to pattern that of Christ.. Many ,“and I do say many “of us are not strong enough to overcome the weakness and temptations of the flesh or carnal man.

    In short ,believers are not perfect, just forgiven!

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  100. Observant,

    Re-read Michael's posts here, and tell me how you are as humble and non-egotistical a person as he is.

    You can't, because you aren't.

    So until you 'walk the walk' I can ignore *anything* that you have to say about your religion. And I do. It ain't helping you any, Mike, and that's obvious from our past conversations.

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  101. In short ,believers are not perfect, just forgiven!
    --------------
    Great. Typical christian (non)morality, Mike.

    You have licence to fail, so why bother to strive to better yourself?

    That's why you don't. And btw, I don't forgive you, Mike. Not for being willfuly ignorant and proud. If your god does, then I guess he likes you that way. But until you wake up and grow as a person and understand the nature of your pride, Mike, I cannot forgive you at all.

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  102. Empathy and humility, Mike. Empathy and humility. Love Thy Neighbor. That which you do to the least of my brothers. And a bunch of other similar quotes. You're not spending enough time on those quotes, Mike. They're not getting through for some reason.

    I know I'm proud. You sir, do not. So I strive against what you are blinded to. I only want you to see that such is necessary in your case as well. In a way, I'm trying to 'save' you. Ironic, isn't it?

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  103. Mike "Sky Daddy!!! Too funny"

    It's being flippant about a serious subject. The god you worship now is an evolution of an ancient male sky god.

    Maybe your sect doesn't say The Lords Prayer, but I'm sure you are aware it exists. Our Father who 'art in heaven, hallow...

    To continue with the flippant remarks, the ancient hebrews feared and respected both the sun and their fathers, so their version of god was a no brainer.

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  104. I don't wanna be rude or an asshole Mike. I mean, you've been nice on this post thus far and I am not trying to provoke you. I'm trying to get through to you. You do not want to see that I have a point, even being a damned atheist. Your pride causes you to perceive my comments as an attack, rather than what they are. Maybe you don't even believe that I *can* be right in matters such as these. But I have to tell you that the easiest way to learn about yourself is to pay attention to what others are saying about and to you. Because we are all of us blind in being able to see ourselves accurately. In order to ever tame the ego, one must learn that it is a problem in the first place, and you haven't even got to that point yet. I'm hoping that you do, eventually. It's a real eye-opener. Learning in one's bones how imperfect and fallible and just plain *wrong* one is (anyone) about any number of things in this world and absorbing that lesson is I think a good first step to real humility. But it's not an easy first step. Not at all. I assure you, it is very painful, at least at first.

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  105. Brian, ALL MEN are prideful to some extent including myself. You only assumed I did not consider myself to be as you are. ”one with as much pride as any other ”.The Bible said pride goeth before the fall.
    Pride is something that is instilled in us. In school we were taught to take pride in what we do.. Pride is a reflection of our character, how we feel about ourselves our hopes and dreams our possessions… It’s a part of our nature, even the humblest man is proud, proud because he has overcome his outward showing of pride.

    Empathy, love long suffering kindness gentleness ,Charity humility, humbleness are all instilled within us as well, but who can order his steps to walk in these ways ever minute of the day. It is humane nature , that’s right ,our nature to be contrary to these behaviors. When somebody cuts us off in traffic or gives us a brake job our first response is anger ,and then comes the yelling and if we’re not real careful cursing. Some handle confrontations better than others but we are all sinners Brian wouldn’t agree?
    I can relate to the Apostle Paul when he said “oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death”

    I’m may not be, what I should be all the time Brian ,but I’m NOT what I used to be…

    Ps dude, I’m not seeking your forgiveness, and if you think I should be ,then your pride might be flaring up.

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  106. Hmmm. Jesus referred to us calling God "Abba, father..." Perhaps Sky Daddy is appropriate.

    I would propose that every believer's idea of God is false. God is beyond our perception, conception, and imagination. When I think on God, or talk to God, or seek to open myself to experience God, I consciously recognize that the being I worship is beyond my comprehension.

    If I were to elect to abandon my belief in the God to whom the Christians point I suppose that the prospect of eternal condemnation would be small in my mind. Why would I abandon belief in God without abandoning that prospect as well?

    By the way, with regard to going to Hell, one does not go there due to ignorance. One goes for rejecting the offered salvation.

    That, of course, requires the existence of sufficient evidence of that offer for each individual to reject or accept as an exercise of will.

    Is there sufficient evidence? I believe there is, but that belief is wrapped up in the experiences of my own life. Can I prove the nature and sufficiency of that evidence?

    Not really. I can only share what I have experienced, and what it means to me. Oh, there are models and arguments and books and many opinions on the matter. I have examined some, and wrestled a bit with the issue.

    As I have said before, I do not seek to argue people into the Kingdom of God. I share my own experiences, they share theirs, and we experience things together for a time.

    The rest is up to God. That seems best to me.

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  107. Here's another random thought:

    considering the rising level of evidence that's contrary to the narrative presented in the Bible (e.g. heliocentrism, evolution, etc...), I think I would be able to believe in a new, as yet undefined religion that is in accord with what science has discovered about the universe.

    Kind of like Scientology (Hubbard does claim revelation, no?) but without the obviously ridiculous stuff; a religion in tune with current thinking, instead of a patchwork Christianity that needs to keep retreating into the cracks because it's demonstrably wrong on several counts and internally contradictory on others. In short, because it's ancient thinking, and it's outdated.

    But the new religion would have to confer tangible benefits on believers to be useful to anyone, and that's one of the reasons why I think Christianity survives: because no one can refute the afterlife and the claimed benefits to belief.

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  108. By the way, with regard to going to Hell, one does not go there due to ignorance. One goes for rejecting the offered salvation.
    ------------
    Okay Michael, I haven't been offered any salvation by any god. It's always been people offering it to me, and they've all been selling something else. I see no offer. It isn't there to me. I could imagine having your experiences and believing as you do, but only as an error in judgement, believing something to be more significant than it really is... But I respect how you take your religion and what you've chosen to get out of it, more than I can many others. Most others. At least thus far, you seem surprisingly okay to me.

    Observant, I'm giving you an assignment. Read over your last post to me and 'underline' or tell me all the many instances of pride you've showin in it, all unknown to you. Here's one, as an example if you're completely in the dark:
    "It’s a part of our nature, even the humblest man is proud, proud because he has overcome his outward showing of pride."
    ---------
    This man you describe is still proud. You're not understanding that being proud of not acting proud is REALLY being VERY proud. Same with being proud of having overcome pride, which is also a conundrum, since if you're proud of 'having overcome your pride' then how have you 'overcame' it in any way? The sentence makes no real sense. So now you know what I'm seeing, and with this example I have hopes that you can give me several more, right from the same post. Have at it, sir Observant. Let's see if you can really observe anything worthwhile...

    Heck, here's another. A freebie:
    "It is humane nature , that’s right ,our nature to be contrary to these behaviors."
    ---------
    A nice excuse to be proud. You keep looking for them. You aren't seeing that making excuses is lame and only stunts your own growth. So what if it's UNATTAINABLE? So what? Haven't you ever heard of 'an ideal to strive for?' If you can't get that idea, then how can you claim to understand Jesus Christ? We're all imperfect, yes, but never let yourself use that as an excuse. The real sin is, not trying to improve. Not trying to get better. Pretending that you're just fine the way you are. For that is not a humble attitude at all. Being that we're all imperfect, this should cause us to all strive MORE, not less. We can never attain perfection, but if we do the actual level best that we can to strive for that ideal, how can that NOT be the optimaql attitude, the optimal way to 'be' in the world as an imperfect being?

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  109. But the new religion would have to confer tangible benefits on believers to be useful to anyone, and that's one of the reasons why I think Christianity survives: because no one can refute the afterlife and the claimed benefits to belief.
    ----------------
    Here's my 'outsider's POV, Michael: I see a few tangible benefits in your religion (and not even all the believers benefit from them) and many more deleterious factors which more than outweigh all of them put together. Plus, I also see that not only do many other religions confer as many 'tangible benefits' as yours does, but a few that confer more. Baha'i, for one, off the top of my head. Or some types of buddhism. Or even vedanta.
    To be truthful, with the exception of a few individuals, yourself perhaps being one and botts another, I see your religion as spiritually poor. No, really. No joke. In order to get anything positive out of it, you have to be smart enough to ignore all the many negatives, all that *darkness,* and likewise be able to navigate that heinous text you call the bible and find the few good grains of wheat amongst the barrel of evil chaff in it. It takes intelligence, determination and an already-instilled sense of humility I think, to derive real benefit from a text and a religion so very fraught with 'landmines' of evil as is yours.

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  110. Observant,
    You never seem to tire of putting the bad mouth on human beings. I noticed you even did on the 2nd choice, calling us retarded rejects. Seems like your version of God did not do much of a job creating man. Guess he was having a bad week.

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  111. An analogy:

    There's a point in time where my '63 Chevy BelAir mutates from a "valuable classic" into a useless heap of junk.

    And that point approaches ever closer, the longer I cling to my car without restoring it.

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  112. This is what my car SHOULD look like.

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  113. "Pride is something that is instilled in us. In school we were taught to take pride in what we do.. Pride is a reflection of our character, how we feel about ourselves our hopes and dreams our possessions… It’s a part of our nature, even the humblest man is proud, proud because he has overcome his outward showing of pride.

    Empathy, love long suffering kindness gentleness ,Charity humility, humbleness are all instilled within us as well.."

    Where, exactly is the 'free will' here?

    And your 'proud of being humble' is just a word game, isn't it?
    ..........................

    "That, of course, requires the existence of sufficient evidence of that offer for each individual to reject or accept as an exercise of will.

    Is there sufficient evidence? I believe there is, but that belief is wrapped up in the experiences of my own life."

    Evidence is certainly not to be confused with your subjective experiences, unless you're going to go with the 'solipsism defence' here?

    "I believe in/that-there-is-a God, therefore the World/shit-that-happens-to-me IS evidence OF God!", sort of thing.

    Paa!

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  114. Ed,

    This is me and my buddies in my dream car.

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  115. I guess if it was my dream car I wouldn't be sitting in it.

    The gag almost worked.

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  116. Brian,

    My other thoughts on the matter would be to go back to a bare bones deism.

    But what would that reasonably entail?

    Definition: God

    A logical inference concerning origins pursuant to the observation of cause and effect.

    Not only are there other logical inferences about origins of the cosmos, but this gives utterly no agency to "God" outside of causing. Saying God created anything is giving an undeserved agency to an unknown, 'force' if you will.

    It could be so many things we might as well call God 'X'

    In the beginning X caused the heavens which eventually produced the earth. And that's it.

    The bible would be pretty damn short if it was edited with philosophical and scientific rigor.

    As a belief a basic deism's not too bad.

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  117. I see that my 12:18 am post was directed at michael but it was supposed to be in response to ed. I mixed 'em up. My points remain valid, though.

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  118. Not only are there other logical inferences about origins of the cosmos, but this gives utterly no agency to "God" outside of causing. Saying God created anything is giving an undeserved agency to an unknown, 'force' if you will.

    It could be so many things we might as well call God 'X'

    In the beginning X caused the heavens which eventually produced the earth. And that's it.
    -------------
    Makes sense to me. That's all you can claim, logically. X.

    (If X is god, then is XXX the holy trinity?)

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  119. I don't screw around. Here's my dream car. The Maybach Excelero

    Hey, if you're gonna dream, dream big...

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  120. Well, I actually already HAVE a 63 Chevy just like the one in the picture I linked, except that it's rusty, in primer and all the trim has been removed. But at least it runs and is licensed and insured so I can drive it.

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  121. I wonder how Christians who believe that they have a personal relationship with Jesus and communicate with the Holy Spirit deal with the facts?

    It is easy to show that Christians do NOT communicate with either Jesus or the Holy Spirit by placing Christians in adjoining rooms and telling one of them a story.

    The others could have paper and pen or some kind of recorder to record the story as communicated to Jesus and the Holy Spirit then relayed to them BY Jesus and the Holy Spirit!

    If every Christian wrote down the same story, then they would INDEED be in communication with Jesus and/or the Holy Ghost and I for one would believe.

    (Of course, no Peter Popoff type shenanegans such as the story being broadcast to all the Christians in the other rooms via radio!)

    Now, we wouldn't be 'testing' GOD at all here, we'd be testing that all the Christians were, in fact, communicating with EXISTING beings and not just communicating with imaginary beings.

    What is the proper Christian response to the suggestion that if the 'communication' is real, there ought to be real life consequences?

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  122. Shame on you, Harry!

    That was a plagiarized photo of the e-trade babies.

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  123. Pboy, I'm not sure of course, but I get the impression that their 'born-again' experience and any other feelings of communion with god, are just that, feelings. Not cogent thoughts which are defined, but vague and nebulous feelings which are later on interpreted verbally. I guess some of them might be far gone enough to actually be hearing words, but most of them I think, just get 'feelings' of god's presence etc.

    And such feelings can of course be easily induced in one's self, by one's desire to have them and one's expectations and peer group helping to define what type of experience one has.

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  124. Plus if I belong to a church full of born-again christians I'm sure that I'll be wanting to 'join their ranks' by having a 'B.A.' experience myself, so even peer pressure can be a factor. Fear of not being good enough to have one, can eventually cause one to appear.

    In my mind, the 'B.A.' experience is the crux, the point where the person stops believing in things like 'facts' because now they believe that their personal feelings trump them. They're 'born again' as a dummy.

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  125. For a minute there, I thought 'B.A.' stood for "Bad Ass".

    Then I read the rest...

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  126. It kinid-of also stands for 'Bachelor of Assholishness' too.

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  127. Yeah, but "Bad Ass" fits in the sentences where 'Bachelor of Assholishness' doesn't, quite...

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  128. Texas Mayor Shoots daughter, self


    The pertinent line:
    "Peters and her daughter, who graduated high school in May, were active in their community and church."

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  129. But Brian, we don't hear too many people saying that they just have a feeling that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are 'around', no.

    They insist that they have a personal relationship with Jesus and communicate via the Holy Spirit.

    A leap of faith is one thing, but a leap of what they say, very specifically, and what they really mean, something which is not any kind of 'communication' or 'relationship' at all, is a different thing altogether, isn't it?

    Truth is they know that they are lying, we know that they are lying and they know and we know that they're lying to each other.

    Perhaps they 'mean' that they have a relationship with Jesus much as a human has a relationship with a dog? Being guided not by Jesus' words, but by gestures and projection of 'energy' or somesuch?

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  130. I think if you were to press them for details, it's more like they 'sense' what god is 'trying to tell them...' And of course, they're positive and certain that they've got it right.

    But hey, you may be right, or maybe it's some of one and some of the other...

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  131. pboy,
    I can only speak for myself, of course. When I experienced born again the short term back ground was, I had the thought cross my mind a week or two back, was there a God or not, as far as I was concerned. I had determined there was not. Then who was Jesus, I thought he was probably a very wise man that lived long ago. I had no connection with any religion for many years, and never thought of the whole god business. I had no desire to be interested in any type of religion. Sitting in a chair, taking life easy, it happened. Out of the blue I was born again. To say I was amazed would be an understatement. As far as it being real it was the most real thing I have every experienced. Shortly after that, maybe a few days I started having thoughts I knew were not mine. The thoughts were along the line of communal type. Most people seem to think this is contact with the spirit. The best I can do for it is think it is a different level of consciousness. I think it is part of evolution, and I can find no way to know, let alone to know the source, I have decided ( with my free will) to have faith there is a God. Although I am exceedingly glad for the experience, it has been hard to come to some kind of understating what it is all about. I have to understand what it is all about. I still don't know what Jesus was all about even though I credit him with the most profound thoughts I have ever run across in my life time. There is not only an attraction to his words but the payoff is as advertised, in every day life, at least by him, not much of the usual BS put out by the various religions. They obscure the reality behind what they talk about. That is a special type of annoyance to me. That is the only thing I oppose about Observant, is his obscuring and distracting from the reality he claims to represent. I do not doubt in his initial experience, but he has let his mind run the show.
    The whole thing has lead me to believe that the born again experience has to do with a different level of consciousness. I see many of the atheist doing some thinking on this level so I do think the various religions are trying to make a big deal out of normal life time happenings. Brian speaks often about empathy, that is on a higher level of consciousness. Other ideas from this level might be an understating, better to give than receive, and turn the other cheek. There us a reality behind these thoughts that produce a more enjoyable life on this planet, and what, if anything that follows will surely take care of itself.

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  132. Ed,

    That hysterical Feynman video you turned us onto when Brian was having the funniest video contest, is included in this autotuned pop-song.

    It's pretty cute. They gave Sagan the chorus, apropos I think.

    Singing Scientists

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  133. Sweet video, Harry! That was epic.

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  134. Just found a cool Zappa quote. He was so ahead of his time...

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

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  135. The question remains Jerry, do you ever say that you are in a personal relationship with Jesus or that you communicate with the Holy Spirit?

    These 'different levels of consciousness' are just a diversion.

    There is no Holy, or Divine "level of consciousness" in our heads.

    Hey, maybe you had a stroke!

    For the sake of interest, if you were given a substance to take, to regain that feeling as though you were in a 'different level of consciousness', perhaps something like dried leaves which you had to make into tea, would you take it?

    Would you recommend it to others?

    Would you give it to someone 'as tea' to see their reaction?

    On another 'level of consciousness' note, it's all subjective isn't it?

    Otherwise that might be a leading question in courts of law, "What level of consciousness were you in at the time of the matter at hand?"

    But no, they only seem concerned about whether you were sober or not, and they don't let you use even THAT as an excuse.

    Saying that you, perhaps communicate with Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit on an even MORE imaginary 'level of consciousness' is a total diversion, just ducking the question all together, in my 'book'.

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  136. Except for the conclusion that there is a God, I agree with Jerry wholeheartedly.

    Pboy is making a significant epistemic and scientific mistake by denying a "Divine" consciousness.

    What Jerry experienced is something I experienced in my conversion. Looking at the process it begets and who can take part in it (everyone) reasonably points to a natural phenomenon brought about by evolution.

    Peeb won't condone the usage of theological nomenclature to describe an actual event, reaching the illogical conclusion that the event is bogus.

    Also, it does not matter in any way, shape or form if an equally "Divine" consciousness can be achieved through drugs.

    In fact making that comparison begs the question.

    You simply, literally, cannot deny the existence of an event by stating there is another way to get there!

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  137. "Except for the conclusion that there is a God, I agree with Jerry wholeheartedly."

    Good for you Harry! (shrug)

    "Pboy is making a significant epistemic and scientific mistake by denying a "Divine" consciousness."

    No, no I'm not.

    "What Jerry experienced is something I experienced in my conversion."

    You can't know that for sure.

    " Looking at the process it begets and who can take part in it (everyone) reasonably points to a natural phenomenon brought about by evolution."

    I suggest you write a book with your significant epistemic and scientific knowledge of these different states in which everyone can partake!

    "Peeb won't condone the usage of theological nomenclature to describe an actual event, reaching the illogical conclusion that the event is bogus."

    I was the one who brought up the notion that this supposed 'different level of consciousness' was 'Holy or Divine', and I suggest that if you imagine that there IS a 'Holy' or 'Divine' level of consciousness then it is YOU who is begging the question by claiming that you believe the Divine because your Divine level of consciousness tells you so.

    "Also, it does not matter in any way, shape or form if an equally "Divine" consciousness can be achieved through drugs."

    It certainly has some bearing on whether a 'different level of consciousness' is real or imaginary, if certain drugs can induce the feeling that one is experiencing a 'different level of consciousness'.

    "In fact making that comparison begs the question."

    I doubt that, and as I mentioned it seems more like begging the question if you come to a conclusion based on your belief that your mind is a recepticle for the conclusion you've come to.

    "You simply, literally, cannot deny the existence of an event by stating there is another way to get there!"

    What did Jerry experience then Harry? You don't know.

    Honestly, you think you know, but you don't. Did YOU have an 'experience'(not an event) where you thought you heard 'some people' talking in your head?

    And of course this is still all just a diversion. "Having an experience" in YOUR head is just that, an IMAGINARY experience!

    If you think that you are in a personal relationship with Jesus and/or in communnication with the Holy Spirit, then you can either communicate with other like-minded people using your ability to communicate with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, or, it's all in your head, it's all imaginary.

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  138. Since I've never heard a clear description of exactly what happens to one when they're born again in christ, I would conclude from this that it's both very hard to describe (which to me suggests a large nonverbal, non-logical, emotional component) and not consistent from person to person. They're not having the exact same experience, whatever it is. If it were always the same, it'd be written down. "This is what to expect" or "this is what happens..."

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  139. Let's look at this experience, in the light of 'Knowledge of and Conversation With one's Holy Guardian Angel' in thelema and in some preceding kaballistic literature. (It's actually an attempt to contact the 'higher self')
    One must 'inflame themselves with prayer' to god, to YHVH, and focus for long periods of time, months, years even, on the goal of having an auditory and hallucinatory experience of a 'higher being' which is your personal 'guardian angel.' In one system, that of Abramelech the Mage, it requires six months, including extensive fasting and purification rituals, and lots and lots of prayer. It is said that it works, if one believes in the system. So what would such an experience BE exactly, if not precisely the same as the 'born again' experience EXCEPT in a more or less nonchristian 'magical' system as old as alchemy. It's an autoinduced hallucination, in my honest opinion. There are REAMS of precedent, in many areas.

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  140. One of your more ludicrous responses.

    You did beg the question with your whole silly analogous experience thing.

    You did commit and are committing an epistemic error.

    But you're right about one thing, I don't KNOW I've experienced what Jerry experienced. Just like you don't KNOW that I haven't.

    But thanks to you I've realized the error of my ways. I really should be more rigorous in my information gathering.

    In fact, next time someone describes a flower to me, I'll be sure and tell them I have NO IDEA whether I've seen a flower or not because comparing descriptions to experience is a stupendously idiotic way to arrive at a conclusion at any time.

    O fates what an unhappy end to my forays into knowledge this is!

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  141. Brian,

    The 'born again' experience is something I've heard atheists describe they experienced.

    But according to peeb, and he is so right, you can't get correct information that way, much less make an extrapolation that people of different beliefs can have the same experience and tap into the same type of thinking.

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  142. But according to peeb, and he is so right, you can't get correct information that way, much less make an extrapolation that people of different beliefs can have the same experience and tap into the same type of thinking.
    -----------------------
    I disagree, in that if I can point to a method in a completely different system of religious and spiritual thought which can produce an audiovisual personal religious hallucinatory experience of a holy guardian angel, and involves a LOT of prayer and ceremony and strong desire to attain it, how can it NOT be said that they are at the very least in the same class of experiences? They may not be identical, but they're only really dissimilar in the identity of the 'being' which is invoked.

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  143. Oh, and best of all, it is said that the personal experience of 'Knowledge of and Conversation With the Holy Guardian Angel' is just that. Personal. As in, subjective, and different for everyone. Some may see and hear it, some may only hear a voice, some just get a strong feeling that one is being communicated with nonverbally, etc.

    So again, it's a lot like the born-again experience.

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  144. Also, and I think this is significant, I firmly believe that many of those christians who claim to have had a born again experience, are lying. Lying first to themselves, insisting that they have had one, that 'the time I prayed really hard I'm sure I felt *something*' kind of lie that it's so easy to tell yourself when you believe that your whole spiritual future depends on having an experience that you don't seem to be having yet...

    So they're not lying to us when they tell us they've had one, since they believe it themselves. It's what they told themselves in hope and aspiration that was the lie.

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  145. I see pboy's point, Harry.

    The born again experience, due to the fact that it occurs in ones head, is no more real than the paranoia and hallucinations of a schizophrenic.
    Sure, the schizophrenic truly believes what he feels is real. Rational people, however, know differently

    The idea that if you could reproduce this experience with a drug (tea)speaks to the nonvalidity of the experience, showing that it is, in fact, a hallucination.

    Flowers, on the other hand, are purdy for reals.

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  146. "I disagree,"

    Brian, that sentence you quoted was utter sarcasm. In fact most of that post was utter sarcasm.

    Except for telling pboy he committed a fallacy.

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  147. I see. You realize of course, that this means war.

    Now, how can we profit from this war? Heh heh heh...

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  148. mac,

    As usual I appreciate your phrasing, but your missing the point.

    Experience occurs in the mind, so do emotional states, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and modes of thinking.

    I'm not of the conclusion there is a God, but I am very much in accord with saying there is an experience and a way of thinking that the religious call x, and the rest of us call 'transcendent' or 'enlightened' -though 'enlightened' still has religious cache.

    I am defending Jerry's take on the experience, and will continue to do so because it's in line with science and reason, not his belief in God/s.

    Your use of mental illness is quite on point. Paranoid schizophrenics have a way of thinking, enough so that it can be scientifically classified.

    Religious experience is currently being studied and classified, here is just one easy to find example, and it's reference from wikipedia.

    Proof pboy is too Scottish for his own good

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  149. Please don't bother me with the fact that there are or were theologians associated with the journal.

    All that matters to me is that it is a science journal that is peer reviewed.

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  150. Sorry mac,

    The above post is not directed directly at you :-)

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  151. Apparently secularhumanism.org hosted a symposium on it as well, but there's not too much information from the description.

    secularhumanism.org religion meeting

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  152. Jerry practically bends over backwards to 'describe' what is 'indescribable' and Harry 'epistemically' agrees! LOL

    But this is then compared us all having seen flowers?

    Let's see, 'higher level of consciousness', flowers, 'higher level of consciousness', flowers, hmmm.

    I think we can all agree that we HAVE seen some flowers, Harry.

    And if you're going to insist that i'm 'begging the question', it ought to be easy to demonstrate HOW it is that I'm begging the question.

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  153. Oh, yea, and it still all amounts to a diversion.

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  154. If I am wrong, which I'm not, but if I am, though I'm not...

    Nevertheless, I'm on to more pedestrian activities like watching a mediocre sex romp and then going to bed.

    Suffice to say you are NOT begging the question because you disagree, even though I think you are flat out wrong, you only begged (past tense) the question when you came up with that pseudo-analogy.

    I swear I pointed that out twice now.

    Maybe not.

    Now on to plotless bosoms and bad puns.

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  155. Harry seems to have decended into using 'tense' as a diversion.

    My 'pseudo-analogy' was begging the question?

    THAT, was my question, how was this supposed 'pseudo' analogy, how was THAT begging the question?

    I guess it's not just a diversion because Harry is being evasive and quibbling over verb tenses.

    'Was begging' versus 'begged'?

    But it is just a diversion, like 'higher level of consciousness' to explain why you CAN'T really explain.

    ...then Harry 'clarifies' with, ".. epistemic and scientific mistake." LOL

    Philosophy is bullshit!

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  156. I think philosophy is to knowledge as big bank economics is to the market place.

    The bankers will look at you and say, "But we make millions because we're smart, how much money do you have?"

    The big philosophy buffs will say, "But we use ever more enigmatic words to communicate, your vocabulary is limited to words PEOPLE understand!"

    Both will say, "Not true!", of course, because they have to.

    But does anyone recall the philosophy buff who created a sentence so convoluted that a girl would be saying 'yes' to going out with him no matter if she answered the question 'yes' or no'?

    And he was PROUD of this word-game shenanegans!

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  157. Here's a question for space-time relativity buffs.

    If gravity is just a 'bending of space-time' then how can the gravity of the Earth be accelerating the Moon?

    Now understood as a pulling force, we can see how the moon can be being pulled around the Earth by the spinning World's gravity, basically 'slingshotting' it into a slightly higher orbit(an inch a year or so as I understand it).

    So, are we now to understand this phenomenon as 'spinning space-time depression' then?

    Just a thought while our last philosopher watches his boobie movie.

    LOL.

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  158. Yeah Harry, I've got Skinamax too.
    Most of the boobs in those movies are as artificial and enhanced as the born again BS ;-)

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  159. Well played my friend, well played.

    You got the first smile of the day mac.

    Have a good one.

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  160. Pboy,

    Boobie movie? Besides getting the broad category of 'wrong answer' confused with 'fallacy,' you obviously don't know how culturally enriching, mentally nourishing, and generally good for the health a mediocre sex romp is.

    For shame peeb, how could ya?

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  161. I guess, since Harry is not willing to describe the fallacy, that is, how what I said WAS 'Begging the question.", we must assume that he's using the term much as some Christian's use the 'out of context' "defence".

    Are we to assume that being in a 'personal relationship with' and 'in communication with' and 'guided by' and such have 'special meanings' when it comes to Christians trying to describe their feelings about this vague yet 'oh, so REAL' "event" which brought them into line with their religious sect of choice?

    Something like what we've been reading in Jerry's comment, "I am in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which means that I communicate in a vage 'higher state of consciousness' which is to say that my personal communication with Jesus cannot be expected to impart knowledge TO Jesus who might pass it on to someone else, in any REAL sense at all.

    Nono, what we might expect is something along the lines of, "I had a strange feeling that something was wrong and, luckily for our personal relationships with Jesus, that strange feeling, on a higher level of consciousness, you see, hit paydirt!

    Like cold reading, more than any ACTUAL communication then?

    "Jesus is in fine form today, I'm sensing that you like the color BLUE? Yes? BINGO!"

    I think it is interesting that Harry wants to jump to Jerry's defence here, as if Jerry is so fragile that he might jump off a cliff if someone were to disrespect his imaginings and claim them as imaginings(GAWD forbid!).

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  162. One thing about describing my born again experience to believers that really grinds my gears is that christians will hone in on one word to claim I didn't really have the experience. "Oh, well you see, no one 'trusts' in Christ, you have to 'repent', blah blah blah...".

    It's beyond annoying. Mike's done it and numerous others across the interwebs and in person have as well.

    All I can say is my experience, which was 100% natural/materialistic/emotional in retrospect, and it conformed nearly identically with others descriptions of their born again experiences (both current and ex christians across a number of sect).

    I say this a lot, but one cannot ever 100% know what someone else experienced, and I think Christians know that so "the argument from experience" often serves as an Alamo for them in an argument. But the conformity of the experiences and my (now) naturalistic understading of the experience gives me enough to reasonably discount the experiences of others.

    I guess as Eric would say, it's reasonable (but not rationally coercive) for me to say it's a manufactured emotional experience and nothing more.

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  163. Why is it that a simple question like, "If you and millions of Christians have a personal relationship with Jesus, shouldn't you be able to tell Jesus something and then Jesus could tell it to another personal friend who might need that information?"

    We don't hear, "No, we're just full of shit!", no.

    What we get is this, 'higher state of consciousness' diversion, all the time, isn't it?

    Now, whether or not you, Jerry, were sitting in a chair and 'something' awesome, wondrous, miraculous etc. happened(right Harry?), it certainly WASN'T 'having the power to impart information to Jesus, in the same way that I might impart information to a personal friend, who might then impart it to another specific personal friend.", now WAS it?

    Now we really don't NEED to hear from some Christians that they CAN communicate to each other via Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, on the one hand, and a bunch of silly diversions on the OTHER HAND, do we??

    Really? Harry?

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  164. Now, I'm thinking that every sane person reading these comments is thinking that having a personl relationship with Jesus just doesn't MEAN that Jesus is about to pass on information between you and your family and/or friends, right?

    Instead, we're expected to believe, that although there are millions of personal friendships with Jesus going on, we're expected to believe that some kind of communication between you, then Jesus, then between Jesus and a loved one(let's say), would be a MIRACLE!

    Never mind that if the personal friendship with Jesus thing were true it ought to be a commonplace THING!

    Christian's THEMSELVES would regard this as miraculous BECAUSE it doesn't happen!

    And we're left with excuses as to why this kind of thing 'shouldn't happen. "God gave us telephones for that!", or, "Who are we to expect Jesus to do something so trivial!?", or, "It makes life more interesting not being able to do something that we claim ought to be possible!", or(in Jerry's case), "It's not THAT kind of personal relationship, more of a PRIVATE relationship* not significantly different from an 'imaginary friend' kind!"

    *on a different 'level of consciousness', in other words, not explainable at all really.

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  165. pboy says,
    If you think that you are in a personal relationship with Jesus and/or in communnication with the Holy Spirit, then you can either communicate with other like-minded people using your ability to communicate with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, or, it's all in your head, it's all imaginary.
    July 18, 2010 10:19 PM

    I congratulate you on the excellent humor saying "maybe it was a stroke OK if you are going down this road everything you think is imaginary. There is no basis in believing that your reality is anything but imaginary. I will say this for my way of thinking. It is based upon my desire to enjoy life as I live it in the now. Jesus laid down a superior way of dealing with every day life that simply says stay now. It works. "Through the ideas that Jesus shared with us impressed me so that I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to him on a decision I made that carries little relative weight on my life. I cannot live my life looking over my shoulder at a God that I do not have the assurance of his/her/it existence. I live for the love that I feel in my heart for life and us. I did not have that love before I experienced being born again. How it fits together, I don't know. I do know what I am experiencing in my every day life. I was living a good life that I enjoyed before this happened, but the life after is far superior.

    I never said I had a personal relationship with Jesus, nor did I say I communicated with him, or him with me. Also I have never heard voices in my head. I said I had new thoughts I was aware of that were not mine. When you start in your rants pay attention to what is said.

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  166. Even the atheists on this blog who claim to have had a born again experience or are associating it with someother kind of transcendental breakthrough are studiously avoiding the fact that this supposed breakthrough to the spiritual/supernatural realm brings us no tangible results at all.

    Seems to me that it is understood that there ISN'T going to be any tangible results to the point where it's considered ridiculous to even TALK ABOUT tangible results and much more reasonable to take a huge step back and talk about the 'event' or the 'experience' which leads Christians to claim 'personal relationship' with Jesus and the mysterious 'thing' with the Holy Spirit.

    I think that it is how the Bible is presented to us and how religion is presented to us as children that makes this kind of foreshadowed 'context' in which we dismiss the obvious as 'silly' or simply not be be identified as 'a problem'.

    If we're all taught, in the 'west' that this kind of quizzing of claims versus results is verboten, then it becomes an 'elephant in the room' where Christians can, and do, simply talk past it as if it were being addressed.

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  167. Do you consider love, hate, empathy, sorrow, forgiveness, etc, as being tangible?

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  168. "I never said I had a personal relationship with Jesus, nor did I say I communicated with him, or him with me. Also I have never heard voices in my head. I said I had new thoughts I was aware of that were not mine. When you start in your rants pay attention to what is said."

    But Jerry, your original comment was in reply to MY comment concerning the 'personal relationship with Jesus and the communication with the Holy Spirit' that many, many Christians claim.

    Since Harry brought up fallacies, I'd like to point out that telling me that it's either ALL imaginary(universal agnosticism) OR your claim is as good as mine is a false dichotomy.

    Okay then, are you willing to admit that your comment was simply a diversion? You supposedly answered my comment, NOW you're saying that YOU don't hold to that Jesus relationship thing AT ALL?

    I don't recall even mentioning a 'born-again experience' but of course I assumed that must have been when you started your personal relationship with Jesus and your communicating with the Holy Spirit since that was the subject of the comment you were replying to.

    Maybe you're saying to me that it was unfair of me to assume that, simply because you were replying to me and my comment, that you were replying to me about my comment.

    Replying to the subject of my comment(communication using Jesus' friendship and Holy Ghost) with the related 'Born again' experience then denying that the 'Born again' experience gave YOU a personal relationship with Jesus is a bit underhanded, a bit devious, don't you think?

    Not sure how you felt 'qualified' to comment on the subject at all then really.

    Just, apparently the related, but unrelated to you specifically, subject of a 'Born again' experience.

    Plus 'now' you seem to be saying that if we can't agree that people have 'divine experiences' which are entirely subjective, are REAL*, then everything down to agreeing that water is wet is somehow 'up for grabs'?

    * and this is where the english language is failing us, because 'real' and 'real to you' are different things which you can use to equivocate with.

    For example, if you were to tell me a dream you had. Was it real? Sure. Was it imaginary? Most definitely! Can something be REAL AND IMAGINARY. Well, a dream can so why not?

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  169. "I never said I had a personal relationship with Jesus, nor did I say I communicated with him, or him with me. Also I have never heard voices in my head. I said I had new thoughts I was aware of that were not mine. When you start in your rants pay attention to what is said."

    But Jerry, your original comment was in reply to MY comment concerning the 'personal relationship with Jesus and the communication with the Holy Spirit' that many, many Christians claim.

    Since Harry brought up fallacies, I'd like to point out that telling me that it's either ALL imaginary(universal agnosticism) OR your claim is as good as mine is a false dichotomy.

    Okay then, are you willing to admit that your comment was simply a diversion? You supposedly answered my comment, NOW you're saying that YOU don't hold to that Jesus relationship thing AT ALL?

    I don't recall even mentioning a 'born-again experience' but of course I assumed that must have been when you started your personal relationship with Jesus and your communicating with the Holy Spirit since that was the subject of the comment you were replying to.

    Maybe you're saying to me that it was unfair of me to assume that, simply because you were replying to me and my comment, that you were replying to me about my comment.

    Replying to the subject of my comment(communication using Jesus' friendship and Holy Ghost) with the related 'Born again' experience then denying that the 'Born again' experience gave YOU a personal relationship with Jesus is a bit underhanded, a bit devious, don't you think?

    Not sure how you felt 'qualified' to comment on the subject at all then really.

    Just, apparently the related, but unrelated to you specifically, subject of a 'Born again' experience.

    Plus 'now' you seem to be saying that if we can't agree that people have 'divine experiences' which are entirely subjective, are REAL*, then everything down to agreeing that water is wet is somehow 'up for grabs'?

    * and this is where the english language is failing us, because 'real' and 'real to you' are different things which you can use to equivocate with.

    For example, if you were to tell me a dream you had. Was it real? Sure. Was it imaginary? Most definitely! Can something be REAL AND IMAGINARY. Well, a dream can so why not?

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  170. "Do you consider love, hate, empathy, sorrow, forgiveness, etc, as being tangible?"

    If you are suggesting that your 'born again' experience was as real as 'love' or as real as 'empathy' and such then you are saying that this was a 'feeling' you had!

    You are basically admitting that you are quibbling over the word 'real'.

    If love is real because you feel love, then is love NOT real when you don't feel love?(etc.)

    And the same can be said for God, if you admitted that love is only real when you feel love.

    And I think that you can see the consequences for the 'tangibility' of such feelings, don't you?

    Of course, in a sense, feelings are real, but we know we're playing word games if we try to imagine that we're talking about the same KIND of 'real' as, say, a person or house.

    But then 'a mind' is real in the sense that thoughts are real and in the sense that a 'higher state of consciousness' is real too.

    Which is to say that they are processes.

    Still, I had the impression that you weren't thinking that you might 'confound me with the ambiguity of language' here?

    Hey, maybe you're just 'confounding' yourself with the ambiguity language?

    If God and Jesus are simply as real as love and empathy, then they're not THAT real then, are they?

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  171. But Jerry, your original comment was in reply to MY comment concerning the 'personal relationship with Jesus and the communication with the Holy Spirit' that many, many Christians claim.

    My response was to share my personal experience hoping you could receive it with an open mind. It is very obvious your mind is not open to possibilities like I described, and that could be why you have not experienced such.

    Since Harry brought up fallacies, I'd like to point out that telling me that it's either ALL imaginary(universal agnosticism) OR your claim is as good as mine is a false dichotomy.

    This is nothing but trying to muddy the water so you are not responsible for your statements. You are the one who brought up the imaginary BS, so you can deal with it coming your way.

    Okay then, are you willing to admit that your comment was simply a diversion? You supposedly answered my comment, NOW you're saying that YOU don't hold to that Jesus relationship thing AT ALL?

    My comments were not meant to be a diversion. It was an honest attempt to share with you my experience hoping to pry your mind open to possibilities but you refuse to consider anything outside of your own thought patterns, it looks like to me. When Harry made his statements about what I said did you even say maybe there is something to this?

    I don't recall even mentioning a 'born-again experience' but of course I assumed that must have been when you started your personal relationship with Jesus and your communicating with the Holy Spirit since that was the subject of the comment you were replying to.

    You are implying that I was replying to a particular statement. I was sharing what I did not as an answer to a particular statement but to an overall view point that you have stated over and over

    Replying to the subject of my comment(communication using Jesus' friendship and Holy Ghost) with the related 'Born again' experience then denying that the 'Born again' experience gave YOU a personal relationship with Jesus is a bit underhanded, a bit devious, don't you think?

    I have no idea how you could come to that conclusion. As I said, I have never said I have a personal relationship with Jesus, that is your projection.

    Not sure how you felt 'qualified' to comment on the subject at all then really.

    As though I have to be qualified according to your thinking. If we go by that statement you are not qualified to speak at all on the subject of God, or being born again.

    Plus 'now' you seem to be saying that if we can't agree that people have 'divine experiences' which are entirely subjective, are REAL*, then everything down to agreeing that water is wet is somehow 'up for grabs'

    Depends on your definition for real. Is your subjective experiences real?

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  172. Okay, I think that we've come to a point here.

    Are thoughts real or imaginary?

    Now I can see a bit of a 'spiral' thingy happening here, can't you?

    Thoughts, or imaginings are in a 'sense' real, inasmuch as we have thoughts. The thoughts themselves, the imaginings are real, but the subject of the thoughts, 'what the thought was 'about' is NOT NECESSARILLY REAL!

    But one CAN have, as the subject of a thought, a real thing. For example thoughts qua thoughts.

    But thoughts, the subject of thoughts(i.e. That the reader has tartan lemons up his/her bum right now!) are a strange mixture of absurdity and real things, colours and people)

    In my ludicrous example, there are such things as lemons, tartan and, hopefully, readers. But it's not likely that any of you have taken the trouble to paint lemons tartan then stuff them up your bum prior to reading this, with the exception of, possibly Harry!

    Just 'thinking about thoughts' is so self-referential and bizarre, it's confusing.

    Now we all know it IS confusing, so a Christian talking about the 'reality' of an 'experience' is at best just themselves confused and at worst, deliberately trying to confuse others.

    Isn't that right?

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  173. "Do you consider love, hate, empathy, sorrow, forgiveness, etc, as being tangible?"


    If you are suggesting that your 'born again' experience was as real as 'love' or as real as 'empathy' and such then you are saying that this was a 'feeling' you had!

    I am not suggesting anything, it is a simple question about your statement. Why don't you just answer the question rather than ignoring it and trying to put forth some brand of BS?

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  174. Okay, Jerry, since you're willing to go down that smug road about 'what is real to you', then I'd say that love, the love that you feel for something or someone is real to you but NOT real to me.

    Similarly the love I feel for people or stuff I feel love for is real to me but NOT real to you.

    All we can know about each others' love for anything at all is what we tell each other.

    For example, I love my pet bird, Pretty Boy Floyd!

    Is that the truth? What does it really mean? You will never REALLY know.

    (and this, Harry, is not analogous to us knowing that there are fucking flowers HARRY! Take those damned tartan lemons out of your bum!)

    Now, you are saying that you had an experience which leads you to believe in/that-there-is a God.

    Well the best that I can agree with here is that God is as real as love etc.

    i.e. You feel like you had a real experience of feelings that leads you to have feelings that there is, for you a God, 'who' is feelings, as real as the feelings you have.

    This notion that my mind is closed to the 'possibilities' is basically a slur.

    Simply because your head is full of magic doesn't make me, by comparison, 'closed minded'.

    Which one of us is playing with words? e.g. Is love 'real' to you?

    Consider that open-mindedly, but not so open-mindedly that your brain falls out!

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  175. Brian,

    "Now, how can we profit from this war? Heh heh heh...a'

    I'll have to talk to Dick Cheney first, he knows how to manufacture a war like no one else.

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  176. " Why don't you just answer the question rather than ignoring it and trying to put forth some brand of BS?

    July 19, 2010 3:47 PM"

    Four or five comments prior to this ridiculous statement have dealt with nothing BUT the difference between the 'realness' of 'love' and 'empathy' and such AND real in another sense such as being a person or the realness of a house etc.

    I love that you are painting ME as ignorant while completely ignoring my comments! (not 'really' though.)

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  177. Man, I hate making mistakes.

    Pboy,

    First, your argument has nothing to do with what I called your begging the question. Never did, no matter what you say... speaking of subjectivity

    Second, I was completely off base in what I thought you were saying about drugs. Just flat out wrong, it's embarrassing and it sucks.

    My guess now, is that you were telling him that 'since that type of consciousness is so great' he wouldn't mind telling people about the pot he smoked, or the crack he did that got him to that place either?

    Which I think...I think (shamed flush in the cheeks) you were implying he wouldn't. Because getting 'high' isn't so spectacular for a believer in God/s, when it's earthly even though it's the same thing?

    I don't know man, shot in the dark, I'm almost too embarrassed to type.

    Oy, me and my interpretive reading.

    Sorry peeb.

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  178. "First, your argument has nothing to do with what I called your begging the question."

    Meaning the thrust of your argument. I was quibbling with what I thought was one line of attack. But since I'm wrong, it doesn't matter.

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  179. I think that you know exactly what it is that I'm talking about Jerry!

    If there were other people present when you had your experience would THEY have seen anything that WASN'T just you sitting in the chair?

    So, much like 'love' which is real to you and unreal to others, your experience was real to you and unreal to others.

    That's not to say that others ought not to believe you if you say that you're in love or not believe you if you say that you had an experience, but so what?

    Both of those, the love you may describe to someone else and the experience you say you had, which you may describe to someone else, are/were, in fact, all in your head.

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  180. Okay, Jerry, since you're willing to go down that smug road about 'what is real to you', then I'd say that love, the love that you feel for something or someone is real to you but NOT real to me.

    What you seem to think is smugness is your own projection. You are the one who came up with the statement about tangible results. I simply asked you if love, hate, etc was tangible to you. Did you answer a simple question that I asked. You went riding off into whom knows where rather than answering. I have to guess at this point that you thought you were going to be in a corner if you answered it directly so you came up with all kinds of what I called BS. It seems to me that all you really want to do is play games.

    Now, you are saying that you had an experience which leads you to believe in/that-there-is a God.

    Here you go trying to put words in my mouth again. I notice you seem to be a master at doing just that. I never said that I believed in God. I said I have faith there is a God. If you cannot see the difference in those two ideas..........

    i.e. You feel like you had a real experience of feelings that leads you to have feelings that there is, for you a God, 'who' is feelings, as real as the feelings you have.

    Here you go again trying to call it feeling when I was talking about thoughts, not emotional feelings. It seems that if you cannot address the statements with your twisted logic you use words to change the statement just enough to suit your argument. I am not accusing you of doing this intentionally as my guess is you do not.

    This notion that my mind is closed to the 'possibilities' is basically a slur.

    When have you ever made any statement on this bog that there might be a spiritual reality that you are completely unaware of? You have made light of any ideas that a living God is a reality, and you are sure of that. Am I wrong in my understanding, and you do see there is a possible reality behind those that do believe in a God of some type? If you don't then you do have a closed mind.

    Simply because your head is full of magic doesn't make me, by comparison, 'closed minded'.

    Where do you come up with the idea that my head is full of magic? Because you disagree with my experiences does not in any way invalidate them. In fact it sounds like you are as bit full of yourself.

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  181. I never said that I believed in God. I said I have faith there is a God. If you cannot see the difference in those two ideas..........
    ------------------
    Um, I don't see any difference here, Jerry. Sorry.

    Having faith IS belief. You have faith that god exists. You believe in god, or at least, a god.

    If you can come up with another definition of 'faith' that doesn't involve any 'belief,' I'm all ears.

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  182. "I simply asked you if love, hate, etc was tangible to you. Did you answer a simple question that I asked. You went riding off into whom knows where rather than answering."

    There was no 'riding off into whom knows where' there.

    You asked me if I thought love and empathy were tangible.

    NO. Not in the sense that it can be touched.

    But we could 'go riding off into the differing possible meanings of the word 'tangible', couldn't we?

    Nono, I was trying to be CLEAR.

    Obviously you are playing word games.

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  183. And Jerry, of course love and hatred are intangibles. They're real, as emotional states, not something one can touch or test though.

    Intangibles are often the things which drive us most. Feelings are more real to us than facts, because feelings are directly *felt* and can be painful or pleasurable, so they provide direct biological stimulus to act upon them. A great logical thought is dry and has no feelings attached to it directly; when one is satisfied with their logical thought and feels good as a result of it, that is still a feeling, about a logical thought. The thought is not the direct cause of the sensations of pleasure; the resultant feeling is.

    The problem with feelings to me is, that they might be and often are *wrong* and *in error* and yet, because they cause direct 'feelings' of pleasure (or pain) we are loathe to discard them and the attached thoughts. Thoughts are easily discarded, until they have feelings attached to them. And when you just 'know' that you're right about something and feel *threatened* when someone tells you that you are wrong, you've invested yourself in the feelings, and so intentionally blind yourself to any new facts that might disprove them.

    I've been genuinely in love with a woman that was not in love with me. So, my feeling was in error. I had not thought it out enough. I was enamoured with my 'being in love with her' and so I refused to see that she was not in love with me. This is of course, very common. So it should be well-known how unreliable feelings are. Feelings of love for another, or feelings of being in communion with god, are practically asking to be in error, since they involve so much personal pleasure, so much at stake, and so little data available on them beforehand, that one often just 'jumps in with both feet' as it were, without really 'looking' first.

    You see, ignorance is truly bliss. You aren't afraid of what you don't know about. and so many people choose this ignorance over actually understanding reality, since doing that is very *hard* while just 'having faith' is so simple a child can do it; indeed, the child is better equipped for it.

    The thing is, when you have faith in a real person and so fall in love with them, there is actually a real person out there that is tangible and can be proven to exist. You don't need any 'faith' just to believe in the other person's existence, just to fall in love with them. And since the other person does exist, they can and often do dissappoint you, and then you realize that your faith in them was not real, was false faith... This is not even possible with god. So sure, faith in god is seen as more 'durable' but that's just because there's nothing to disprove it for your edification. God isn't around to be a jerk to you, to 'dump you,' so you'd see that he's not 'all that.' God is completely absent from the world, so people can invent and then believe whatever insane thing they want to about him and there's nothing to ever even indicate to them that they're mistaken.

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  184. Jerry said then Brian said "I never said that I believed in God. I said I have faith there is a God. If you cannot see the difference in those two ideas..........
    ------------------
    Um, I don't see any difference here, Jerry. Sorry."

    I think I see what he's saying. In the first instance (I believed in God), I think "believed" implies that one knows the attributes, characterists, will, etc... of said god.

    I don't think Jerry's claiming that.

    As far as I can tell anyway... however, from past posts, I think Jerry thinks God is omnibenevolent, so there's that...

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  185. The way I see it is, if I believe in God the question if there is a God or not is automatically answered. There has to be a God before I can believe in God. If I have faith there is a God it leaves open the question if there is a God or not. I might be mistaken in my faith.

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  186. If I have faith there is a God it leaves open the question if there is a God or not. I might be mistaken in my faith.
    ----------
    Or you might be mistaken in your belief. It's equivalent. And most christians emphatically *do not* see their faith as 'something that could be wrong...'

    I was brought up a christian, and to me 'faith' in god is even stronger than 'belief' in god. When you have faith, it's all over. They're stuck in that circular logic thingy forever. But if one merely believes in god, one might not believe strongly enough to have attained 'faith' and so one might be able to be talked out of that belief. That's how I've always thought about it, even as a kid, when I did believe in god, but I certainly never attained 'faith' in him. I tested my belief as I grew, and it failed every time, so it went away. If it'd been faith, why, I would never have tested it, now would I have?

    Better I think to say 'I believe that it is likely that there is a god,' no? More precise.

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  187. And the word game diversion goes on.

    Belief versus belief 'in' and such.

    Funny how I made a comment about a specific thing that Christians believe or claim to believe, then Brian answered, then Jerry.

    But Jerry DIDN'T answer. He just made a comment about something totally different.

    Now he's willing to go down this diversion 'road' more and more, covering his own ass.

    He, we hear, doesn't believe that he has a personal relationship with Jesus, or perhaps he just 'never said that' in his comments. (might be either, might be both, we can't know for sure)

    He can distance himself from anything he said and try to concentrate on a diversion, the meaning of belief versus belief 'in' and such, as if he has never read any of my comments before and thinks it might be a huge consideration to our conversation.

    But, like a rabbit out of a hat, he's willing to invoke knowledge of all my comments if that suits what he's saying at any time.

    It's the same old wordgames and the same old, "I never specifically said THAT!", sort of thing.

    The same old, "What is the meaning of 'real'?", and, "What is the meaning of belief?", crap.

    That's bullshit, and it doesn't not come close to answering why a LOT of Christians say that they have a personal relationship with Jesus and communicate with the Holy Spirit while it is obvious that they do not mean it in any kind of plain sense at all.

    In fact it is obvious that they mean it in some special religious or spiritual sense whereby there is zero standard of accountability.

    Simply put, IF you Jerry are communicating with Jesus in a personal relationship and IF you know of another Christian who claims the same personal relationship with Jesus, they why wouldn't you be able to communicate with the other Christian through Jesus???

    Now, that's not too hard a concept to grasp, is it?

    Denying that you DO have a personal relationship with Jesus is not denying that you understand the premise, is it?

    So what's the deal with just being happy with distancing yourself from that whole thing???

    It 'smacks of' avoidance, just avoiding any unpleasant facts that don't fit into reality.

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  188. There has to be a God before I can believe in God.
    --------------
    Not at all, at least, not in the normal usage of those words.

    People believe in Jesus, due to faith, and not facts. Faith IS belief, only without supporting evidence. So in reality ALL belief in god is faith-based, or rather, based in nothing testable or provable. How can one say otherwise?

    The important point here to me is, both 'faith' and 'belief' imply a high degee of certainty. Neither one permits much doubt; faith permits even less than belief.

    The main difference seems to be that faith isn't based in anything real, and needs no evidence to support it. However, once one 'has faith' in god, one automatically 'believes' in god, since faith IS belief, just unsupported belief. It's not in any way a less strong belief. In fact, it can be said to be much stronger than belief BECAUSE it doesn't require evidence to attain the same level of certainty, and thus NO EVIDENCE is sufficient to disprove it. It becomes practically an indisputable 'fact' to the person.

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  189. And Jerry, of course love and hatred are intangibles. They're real, as emotional states, not something one can touch or test though.

    That is the point. You did not have any problem answering the question. pboy could have said as much but he chooses to go off on some tangent rather than do so. I just was not sure what he meant, and wanted to make sure. If he would assign sincerity to what I say it would be easier to deal with. As it is I give up, I really think he is playing games.

    I've been genuinely in love with a woman that was not in love with me. So, my feeling was in error.

    I do disagree with this statement however. If you loved her it might have been an error to do so, but that does not invalidate your loving her. Mistake, maybe, but was not your thinking it a mistake or error the negative that resulted in finding out she did not love you rather than the love you had for her? It sounds like you had a conditional love, and when she did not return your love you felt like it was an error to love her. I do not think it is a mistake to love others, in fact I highly recommend loving everyone. Expecting something in return can often lead to a painful experience.

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  190. "1 a : capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch : palpable b : substantially real : material
    2 : capable of being precisely identified or realized by the mind
    3 : capable of being appraised at an actual or approximate value "

    "..of course love and hatred are intangibles. They're real, as emotional states, not something one can touch or test though.

    That is the point. You did not have any problem answering the question. pboy could have said as much but he chooses to go off on some tangent rather than do so."

    REALLY?

    According to meaning 2 of the word tangible, again:-

    "2 : capable of being precisely identified or realized by the mind "

    .. it's not as clear cut as you would have us believe.

    Imagine, 'grief' can be 'tangible' in a sense.

    Now here I am trying to cut through the bullshit, the confusing meanings, the word games, and after heaping on as many of these words as you can, you do a 'tu-quoque' and accuse ME of playing word games.

    HAH!

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  191. Hitchens on Gibson... fantastic.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2260937/

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